Wild West Days wild as ever during weekend tilt
by Nathan Warner
“It’s a happy exhaustion,” Bill Potrament, president of the Zimmerman Civic Club, said about how he feels after running Zimmerman’s Wild West Days to a thrilling conclusion Monday.
Wild West Days ran from Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30, and drew even larger crowds this year with events including Art in the Park, softball tournaments, camel rides, karaoke contests and the new Zimmerman’s Got Talent show.
The well-established carnival, Soap Box Derby and parade all brought people out in droves.
More than 3,200 spectators attended the parade that rolled down Fremont Avenue and Main Street on Saturday. The weather was perfect and onlookers were animated by the variety represented in the parade, including the 728 Cadets who won the Judges’ Choice Award, mounted police, lines of custom cars and bikes, fire trucks, area businesses, churches, visiting royalty from as far away as Becker, beautiful floats and a camel.
“Karen (Glunz) is the unsung hero of this whole thing,” Potrament said. “She throws herself into planning this parade with tenacity every year, while captains Don Starry and William Jones of the reservists did an incredible job keeping everyone safe. The reservists presented themselves so well and were very diligent and committed to public safety.”
More than 36 reservists were present throughout the five-day event, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for participants.
The Medallion Hunt found a winner in Melanie Bridgeman. She dug up the medallion buried in a park at Woodland Meadows development and won $150 for the effort. “It took the third clue before people realized the medallion could be buried as deeply as it was,” Potrament smiles.
One of the newest and most energizing events of Wild West Days was the Zimmerman’s Got Talent show.
Judge Karen Glunz said the show preliminaries were incredibly difficult for the jury. “We had some really awesome talent,” Glunz said. “The kids in the preliminary talent contest were unbelievable. I had tears in my eyes all night and couldn’t see my score sheet.”
Olivia Hanson won first place in the final talent contest Sunday for her age group (12 years and younger), singing “House at Pooh Corner” while playing her guitar, which earned her a rousing applause from the audience.
Free-style dancers Sammi Faulkner and George Kratee won first place for their acrobatic dance styles in the 13–19-year category, which also won hoots and hollers from astonished spectators as they spun, wheeled, and flipped through the air.
Winning in the adult category were Erik Neseth and Brian Lubahn, who sang “Dynamite” to thunderous applause with an acoustic wood box and a guitar.
A blustering thunderstorm Monday morning threatened to interfere with Jacob’s Run, but the weather moved on just in time and the runners took off only an hour later than planned. They followed an alternate route down Fremont Drive due to impassible areas around the traditional Lake Fremont route. First-place winners were Tim Peterson (male), Stephanie Lazarz (female) and Blake Ehley (under 18). “Things were very successful,” coordinator Ashley Schleper said. “We had a great turnout of about 250 people and the donations were wonderful. We’re excited to start planning for next year’s run.”
The planning is also beginning for next year’s Wild West Days. Potrament wants to tweak things just a little to make the event even better and bigger, encouraging more participation with some new ideas.
Among them, the Zimmerman Civic Club wants to set up the food court as an amphitheater of sorts for the music attractions, allowing the bands to reach a larger audience while people eat.
“We currently have a really good mix of attractions,” Potrament says. “Now the exciting challenge is how to make it even better for next year.”